Going Forward Report (2018-2019)

Going forward, the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired is committed to working to resolve the issues surrounding the Bowen Island Lodge and will make every effort to run a camping program in 2019. We remain as committed as ever to protecting the rights of the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind to access the Bowen Island Lodge as well as the rights of our Bowen Island neighbours. The society also plans to continue its fundraising efforts, both online and through events currently being planned, including our pub night fundraiser coming up on July 14, 2018 at Moose’s Down Under in Vancouver. We will also be at Bowfest, Bowen Island’s community fair, on August 25, 2018.

In 2016, the society’s board of directors voted to move forward with plans to create a live-in independent living skills training centre for the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind. Work on this initiative is ongoing and we are pleased to say that it is progressing well. We look forward to continuing work on this project into next year and beyond.

The society will also make improvements to our machine learning tool, Bailey. We will also expand Canadian Blindness Services to provide even more resources.

Finally, the society will continue to recruit volunteers, develop community partnerships, and otherwise strengthen its program offerings.

Looking Back Report (2017-2018)

At the beginning of December the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired was made a publisher by Library and Archives Canada. Achieving this designation allowed us to create an initiative, launched on World Braille Day, to create accessible books in electronic text, audio, and Braille as part of our effort to increase literacy of people who are blind, visually impaired, or deaf blind. We have called this initiative Camp Bowen Books.

Expanding on our outreach initiatives from last year that saw a telephone information line created for the dissemination of society news, the board launched Canadian Blindness Services (canadianblindnessservices.com) to collect as much information as possible on the resources available to blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind Canadians. When complete it will also have information on blindness, partial sight, and deaf blindness of interest to families, employers, organizations, and others who want to make a difference in this space. We began promoting the service, though it is still in its infancy, at the 2018 White Cane Week event held at the Park Royal Shopping Centre in North Vancouver, BC on February 8, 2018.

Also in February, the society began work on Bailey, a machine learning tool designed to speed up and reduce effort required for the production of 21st century ready accessible books. Bailey is a software application that works by learning from the work of human book producers and applying the knowledge she gains to automatically perform common production tasks. Bailey, has been hard at work and will have her first set of books complete soon. This includes the greater than 162 titles the society will be contributing free of charge to the National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS). By using Bailey, volunteers will be able to produce public domain titles faster and more efficiently than ever before. Bailey can produce multiple forms of ebooks, DAISY books, audiobooks, and Braille books and we are excited to see where she will go next.

In April, the society launched a pilot program for its training initiative. The pilot will help to inform decisions regarding delivery of training services and will be followed up by an expanded pilot ahead of the development of a live-in independence living skills training centre.

Finally, the society continues to advocate for the rights of the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community and our Bowen Island neighbours in the dispute over the Bowen Island Lodge situation as it pertains to the covenant governing the use of the lands and facilities. The covenant, which restricts the property to having the principal use as a training, meeting, and recreation space for those who are blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind, is not being properly followed by the current management, who have not yet addressed safety, accessibility, and affordability concerns that make the property in its current state unusable by the principal use group. The significant issues surrounding the Bowen Island Lodge came to a head early in 2017 after attempts to resolve said issues with the owners who purchased the property in 2016 came to a standstill. As a result of the issues, which span the categories of safety, accessibility, affordability, and facility access, summer camps have been postponed until 2019. The society has been working tirelessly with the community of Bowen Island and the Bowen Island Municipality to resolve these issues and remains committed to ensuring that the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community’s rights of access to the Bowen Island Lodge are upheld. For progress updates, visit our website at:
https://www.campbowen.ca/lodge/summary/

Agenda for the 2018 Annual General Meeting

June 15, 2018

  • 1. Call to Order
  • 2. Approval of Agenda
  • 3. Approval of Minutes From the 2017 AGM
  • 4. Looking Back Report
  • 5. Financial Report
    • 5.1. Motion:
      Whereas the society’s 2017 financial report is still being assembled
      Let it be resolved that the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired hold a special meeting of the members to approve the financial report with notice of such a meeting given by email, social media, and the society’s website: www.campbowen.ca
  • 6. Voting
    • 6.1. N/A (No open positions)
  • 7. Going Forward Report
  • 8. Adjournment

Note: An opportunity for community discussion will follow the meeting.

Notice of the 2018 Annual General Meeting

Notice is hereby given that the 2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired will be held on Friday, June 15 at 7 PM Pacific at 5737 180 St., Surrey BC, Canada. Members unable to attend in person can attend via teleconference using the instructions found on the contact page of the society’s website.

The agenda and other AGM documents will be posted on our website the week of the meeting.

To register to attend the AGM, please contact the society by phone at: +1 (844) MYBOWEN (692-6936) extension 2 or by any other method found on our website’s contact page.

Update on the Bowen Island Lodge Situation for April 21, 2018

Issues regarding the Bowen Island Lodge continue.

On April 12, 2018, the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired met with the Bylaw department of the Bowen Island Municipality to reaffirm our position regarding the covenant governing the Bowen Island Lodge. We asked the Municipality to enforce the covenant that protects the rights of the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind as well as the residents of Snug Point. We were informed at the meeting that Bylaw will be meeting with the Bowen Island Lodge on April 30, 2018. What exactly the contents of the April 30 meeting will be were not disclosed. Bylaw also scheduled a follow up meeting with the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually impaired for May 2, 2018.

We have reason to believe that this matter will go before Council soon, making letters of support even more important than ever. If you have submitted a letter of support, we thank you and invite you to join those of us who will be going before council during public comments on Monday, April 23, 2018 at the regular Council meeting scheduled for 9:30 AM at Municipal Hall.

If you have not yet submitted a letter of support or are just now hearing about the serious issues being raised about the Bowen Island Lodge, you can find all the information here.

We thank you in advance for your continued support. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us via the contact page on www.campbowen.ca or at +1 (604) 947-0021.

Update Re: Bowen Island Lodge Situation

Hello Everyone,

After receiving inquiries into whether or not our meeting with the Bowen Island Municipality, scheduled for April 12, 2018, would be open to the public, we realized that we were unclear in our original communication as to the nature of the meeting. The meeting was set up by the Bylaw Office of the Bowen Island Municipality and not by the Municipal Council. It was therefore, unfortunately not open to the public.

We may yet need to appear before Municipal Council and greatly appreciate that members of the community are willing to attend when that happens. In the meantime, we will keep everyone posted as to our progress.

We thank everyone who expressed interest in attending the meeting today and apologize for the confusion.

For those of you who took the time to send letters of support, thank you. Your letters of support are important pieces of the case we are making.

We look forward to providing all of you with updates on the situation soon. To sign up to get updates, please go here.

Thank you for your continued support of our struggle. Your support means the world to the team here at Camp Bowen as we fight for the rights of the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind and Bowen Islanders. We couldn’t do it without you.

Warm regards,
Alex Jurgensen
On behalf of:
The Camp Bowen Team

Help to End the Injustice Happening On Bowen

For immediate release

Please circulate to as many interested groups or individuals as possible.


All campers from the 2016 adult retreat on the patio of the Bowen Island Lodge with Deep Bay in the background.

On April 12, 2018, we, the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired, the Bowen-based non-profit that took over CNIB’s summer camp program in the fall of 2010, will be meeting with the Bowen Island Municipality to seek enforcement of the Bowen Island Lodge Covenant, which protects the rights of our Bowen Island neighbours as well as those of the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community. Breaches of the covenant have already lead to the cancellation of the 2017 camping season, marking the first summer camps have not been held in 54 years, and have far reaching consequences.

In 2002, a covenant governing the lands and facility that is the Bowen Island Lodge was put in place by the Bowen Island Municipality that protects the residential nature of Snug Point and ensures blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind individuals have access to a facility for recreation, meeting, and training. The covenant, which was signed by CNIB and the Bowen Island municipality and which also applies to their respective successors, was designed to restrict the use of the lands and facility in keeping with the residential nature of Snug Point by designating the principal use of the Bowen Island Lodge as “recreation, training and meeting facilities related to the care and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities…” (Covenant P. 4), activities that do not typically disrupt the surrounding neighbourhood. Furthermore, the covenant places restrictions on the amount of accessory use events, events not considered part of the principal use, that can be held at the facility to ensure that the principal use group has access to the facility and to reduce the amount of noise and other issues typically associated with an event space and resort. When the covenant was instated, it created Canada’s first and only legally protected recreation, meeting, and training facility for the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind.

In early 2016, the Bowen Island Lodge changed hands, from the trethewey family, who had purchased the property from CNIB in 2011, to the Hundred Year Education Group Corp., a company with off-shore owners. Under this new ownership it has been made very clear that they intend to run the facility primarily for accessory use groups. Repeated attempts by organizers of programs for the principal use group to resolve issues of affordability, safety, and accessibility have met with no success.

There is no mention in the lodge’s marketing of the principal use group, something that serves to reenforce their position. A closer look at their marketing reveals that the lodge is advertising itself as having a capacity of 200 people, when the covenant clearly states a hard limit of 150 people for its largest events.

In June of 2017, two months after the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired’s 2017 Safety and Accessibility Report was released to the Bowen Island Lodge, a representative of Victoria-based Huntington Manner, the company put in charge of the Bowen Island lodge’s operations by the Hundred Year Education Group Corp., sent an answering report. In this report, the representative made it clear that they don’t see the need to follow the covenant as it pertains to the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind, citing a paragraph that is superseded later in the covenant. To the best of our knowledge, according to the covenant, at the end of the day, all parts are to be interpreted according to the spirit of the covenant, which is to protect the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community, as well as the neighbourhood of Snug Point. If correct, this invalidates the representative’s claim. The report goes on to suggest that the answer to the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community’s safety and accessibility concerns, as expressed in our report, is to ensure that any concerned blind, visually impaired, or deaf blind guest be accompanied by a sighted person. This is as ridiculous as saying any concerned black guest should be accompanied by a white person or any concerned female guest should be accompanied by a man and is blatantly unacceptable. Just as society wouldn’t tolerate this report were it based on skin colour or gender, neither should we stand for a report that makes such suggestions based on disability. Not only does the report’s recommendations insult the independence of members of the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community by its tone and suggestions, it flies directly in the face of what the facility was intended for and the covenant protects. Finally, the report’s suggestions that the society bare the cost of substandard safety and accessibility measures, coupled with the report’s conclusion that the society perhaps look elsewhere for a venue, paint a grim picture of how the lodge views its responsibilities as set out by the covenant.

Today, more than ever before, there is a need for a training and recreation centre for the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind in Canada. The blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community is currently in a state of crisis. There are high rates of depression and low self-esteem, a lack of freedom, and an estimated 80% unemployment rate in the community. A large part of the solution to these problems is access to safe, accessible, affordable, and quality independent living skills training. At present, the Bowen Island Lodge is Canada’s only legally designated training centre for the blind, visually impaired, and/or deaf blind.

The time has come for the facility to be used for its intended purpose and help blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind Canadians become first class citizens in society. This can be accomplished by upholding the existing covenant and ensuring that the lodge’s principal use group remains protected. Bringing in principal use groups as the primary occupants of the lands and/or facilities and keeping accessory use events as secondary would also serve to protect the residential nature of Snug Point.

Failure to protect this unique resource sets a dangerous precedent. The law was put in place to protect both the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community as well as the local neighbourhood and failing to uphold it sends the message that any other laws, not to mention additional parts of the covenant, pertaining to these groups can just be ignored.

And this is where we need your help. On April 12, 2018, we need to show the Bowen Island Municipality that we, the Bowen Island and blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind communities, will not tolerate such behaviour as exhibited by the Bowen Island Lodge from businesses in our community. We need to make clear that businesses cannot get away with disregarding our local laws. We also must make it known that protecting the rights of blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind people and those of Bowen Islanders is important and something we want to see done.

The best way to do this is to write a letter of support. More information, history, all the aforementioned reports, supporting documentation, some sample letters of support, and updates are available through this page on our website.

To submit your own letter of support, you can: use the form found at the above link, email mayorandcouncil@bimbc.ca, or write to:

Mayor and Council
981 Artisan Lane,
Bowen Island, BC
V0N 1G2

We thank you in advance for taking the time out of your busy schedules to read about our predicament.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call us at +1 (604) 947-0021 menu option 2 or use any of these other methods.

Yours truly,

Alex Jurgensen

On behalf of:

The Camp Bowen Team

Updates

April 10, 2018
Updated to reflect recently discovered information about the sale of the Bowen Island Lodge. The lodge was sold in late 2015 and not early 2016 as originally stated. New evidence also shows that The Hundred Year Education Group Corp. directly owns the property and updates have been made to better reflect this.

Less Than 60 Hours to Order Your Tasty Purdy’s Treats

A wrapped box of Purdy's hedgehogs.

Image copyright Purdy’s

Hello Everyone,

There are less than 60 hours left to get orders in for your tasty Purdy’s Easter treats. With pick up locations set up for Bowen Island, Vancouver, and Surrey, this is not a chance you want to miss!

25% of all proceeds will be donated by Purdy’s to the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired and 100% of that amount will go straight towards programs benefiting blind, partially sighted, and deaf blind Canadians.

For more information, please read our original post.

Or, if you would like to get started right away, just click on the below link and create an account:

Order now!

Remember, you pay the same as you’d pay in-store or online, and the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired gets 25% of sales.

Don’t miss the order deadline: March 12th at 11:59 PM.

We thank you in advance for your support of locally based programs benefiting blind, partially sighted, and deaf blind Canadians.

Please feel free to call us at +1 (604) 947-0021 with any questions you may have about this fundraiser or our program offerings.

Happy Easter,

The Camp Bowen Team

We’re Hopping with Excitement!

A wrapped box of Purdy's hedgehogs.

Image copyright Purdy’s

Hello Everyone,

Easter will be here before you know it, bringing with it family get togethers, easter egg hunts for the children, and, of course, lots and lots of chocolate. This year, it is also bringing an opportunity for you to get your fix of Purdy’s delicious chocolates while supporting programs benefiting blind, partially sighted, and deaf blind Canadians.

Spring into Easter with both featured items for Easter and regular favourites such as: Easter baskets, Baby Bunnies, Bobbity Bunny – Milk Salted Toffees, Topsy Bunnies, Bunny Bags, Peanut Butter Eggs, Yolk Eggs, Caramel Eggs, Petit Pastels, Georgia Plushies, Jelly Beans, Sweet Georgia Browns, Hedgehogs, Easter Tins – and much more!

Purdy’s has been making chocolates in Vancouver since 1907, and it’s still where they craft all your favourites today. Purdy’s uses only the highest quality ingredients like Canadian dairy, crunchy nuts that are roasted in-house, and only 100% sustainable cocoa. On top of supporting the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired, every purchase you make helps improve the lives of cocoa farmers in rural communities.

Easter is just around the corner and Purdy’s chocolates are great treats to offer your friends and family over supper, during an easter egg hunt, or just because. After all, who ever needed an excuse to eat chocolate?

Place your order online now!

You pay the same as you’d pay in-store or online, and the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired gets 25% of sales.

You will need to register by entering your first name, last name, email address and creating a password. Once registered and logged in, you should be directed to the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired Easter Fundraiser Campaign page. From there you are able to: invite other members, shop online, and pay for your orders.

Orders can be picked up at our three pickup locations: Vancouver, Surrey, and Bowen Island. Pickup will take place on the dates below. Please call +1 (604) 947-0021 before March 21, 2018 to arrange a pickup date, time, and location. You don’t pay for shipping!

Pickup Dates and locations

Bowen Island

Where
In front of the library
When
Thursday, March 22, 2018 from 3:15 to 6:45 PM (Call +1 (604) 947-0021 and press 2 to arrange a pickup time)

Surrey

Where
5737 180 St., Surrey, BC
When
Friday, March 23 to Thursday, March 29, 2018 (Call +1 (604) 947-0021 and press 2 to arrange a pickup time)

Vancouver

Where
1720 West 12th Ave., Vancouver, BC
When
Friday, March 23 to Thursday, March 29, 2018 (Call +1 (604) 947-0021 extension 105 to arrange a pickup time)

Don’t miss the order deadline: March 12th

We thank you in advance for your support of programs benefiting blind, partially sighted, and deaf blind Canadians.

Please feel free to call us at +1 (604) 947-0021 with any questions you may have about this fundraiser or our program offerings.

Happy Easter,

The Camp Bowen Team

Introducing Canadian Blindness Services

A young woman walks with her cane. On her arm she wears a yellow bracelet with a paw print on it.

The Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired welcomes Canadian Blindness Services to our family of projects. Canadian Blindness Services is designed to be a central and collaborative information exchange and services hub for individuals, families, organizations, and businesses participating within the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community in Canada. We believe that collaboration between those involved in the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community is important because together, we are stronger. We also understand the need to connect those who are blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind, as well as their families, with information and resources, and we seek to meet this need. This project can be found at canadianblindnessservices.com

Canadian Blindness Services is still in the beginning stages. As always, your feedback is welcome. Feel free to contact Canadian Blindness Services via the contact us link on the project’s website.